Jill and Faith Soloway and Rebecca and Liz Feldman are two sets of super creative sisters. The Soloway Sisters and Feldman Sisters have at times been confused for one another, jealous of each other and quite possibly have logged hours at the same gay and gay-jacent Hollywood parties.
They even have similar childhood memories: being the only Jews in their grade school, listening obsessively to Chorus Line and dreaming of making art together forever and ever and ever.
These past few weeks, Rebecca Feldman and Jill Soloway have been throwing down in the name of fundraising. They’re going head to head to see who can raise more money for beloved LA public school Micheltorena. The school’s organic garden is the heart of Silver Lake is a hipster hangout, and the event this Saturday night at Assistance League Children’s 1367 N St. Andrews Place in Los Angeles, CA. A festival of laughs is guaranteed for all who attend.
Liz Feldman, who many AfterEllen.com readers know from This Just Out is a stand-up comic and comedy writer on 2 Broke Girls. Her sister Rebecca is the co-creator of the musical, Putnam County Spelling Bee. Jill Soloway was a producer/writer for Six Feet Under and is working on her first feature film, Afternoon Delight. Faith Soloway is behind the beloved Secrets web series and has created musicals like Jesus Has Two Mommies, Miss Folk America and the upcoming Your Privates in Public. Together, the Soloway sisters helped Jane Lynch write her Emmy material this past year.
Below, the four sisters answer some pertinent questions about creativity, girl pairs, musicals, nostalgia and more.
AfterEllen.com: Tell us about your earliest memories of your creative collaborations.
Faith: Jill and I are 18 months apart. Some say Irish twins, so we’ll say Jewish twins. I’m the older one, but I will eternally fell like the younger one, because Jill set the reference level and the pace.
Jill: Our whole childhood we wrote original songs and came up with little crazy plays together. We wrote a song about being together when the rest of the world was gone called “When the Battle is Over.” Faith was my hero because she sat behind the piano inventing worlds. All I had to do was go along for the ride.
Faith: Besides plays, our whole world was this kind of imaginary playground. We turned our family den into a store and called it Jean Fionne, thinking it was French for something. We played paper dolls together. Silly songs, silly skits. we would lose ourselves in pretend worlds, but those worlds were very average. While other kids were maybe playing cops and robbers, we would be playing “gift shop” or “office.”
Liz: My first collaboration with Rebecca was a project I did in eighth grade for my history class. It was a video news magazine called “Mexico: Then and Now.” I was the host, and I also played a variety of Mexican men, complete with mustaches and terrible accents. My sister directed, shot it, edited it and sang the theme song. I got an A-.
Rebecca and Liz with actress Caroline Aaron from their film “My First Time Driving”
Rebecca: Liz was a really funny kid and she made me laugh a lot. She would also do everything I asked her to do as long as it wasn’t too “dramatic” like pretending you’re dead or sick. She hated that. But her willingness to go along with me probably nurtured the director in me. We did a lot of shows in the kitchen while my mother was making dinner. We had a pantry off to the side which we used as our backstage area and we would come careening out of there to perform. We also played Single Mom Apartment House a lot in the upstairs bedroom. I guess a lot of our friends had single moms and lived in apartment houses and we thought that was cool.
AE: How did having a sister to be creative with influence your creative style as you made things professionally?
Rebecca: I think it gave me the groundwork to not only collaborate well with others, but crave collaboration. The voice feels almost doubled. So the voice is strengthened and primed for collaboration. Criticism doesn’t feel personal. Having a sister to be creative with is this unconditional, always reciprocated, understanding that the final product ill be amazing, whether it is or not.
Rebecca and Liz
Jill: I want to double what Rebecca said, which means quadruple. I feel such a strong sense of rightness when working with either my sister or a sister doppleganger. I think because the world is so male-centric it’s easy to question your voice as a lady. Thinking about looking across the stage or the desk or the studio and seeing my sister there really allows me to let go of all of my self-judgment and just think, as long as Faith and I are together, this will be wonderful. In terms of that unconditional “yes” that all artists need for themselves anyway, it’s kind of a shortcut.
AE: Faith and Rebecca are the makers of musicals. Tell us what you’ve done and what’s upcoming.
Faith: I am writing a musical called Your Privates in Public It is about a group of people taking a performance workshop, told through the POV of Jewish anxiety. It’s the first time I’ve had the luxury to take my time with something. Here in Boston, they called me the Schlock opera Queen.
Jill and I, of course, had some success collaborating in Chicago at The Annoyance Theater with The Real Live Brady Bunch and The Miss Vagina Pageant. Here in Boston, I produced these huge shows, really quickly, for two night runs with folk singers, (Miss Folk America, Jesus Has Two Mommies) So this latest project, has been so wonderful to take my time with something. The Putnam County Spelling Bee has actually been a show role model on what kind of show I want to do, so this whole sisters squared thing is a timely coincidence right now.
Faith and Jill
Rebecca: Many years ago, when I was living in New York I was into getting a bunch of my funny actor friends together and improving our way to a play in a very short rehearsal period. Putnam County Spelling Be started as a show we did downtown as one of those efforts, called C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E. I was very lucky to have some super talented people join me. For a downtown show it was a big success. People would actually come back and see it again, which almost never happens. One of the actresses in the show and my co-producer was Sarah Saltzberg, who was Wendy Wasserrstein’s nanny at the time. Wendy came and saw it and recommended we contact her friend William Finn (Falsettos) to turn it into a musical, which was our goal. We did and within a couple of years it went to Broadway.
The way that the spelling bee is being used as a fundraiser for Micheltorena is a structure we figured out a few years ago when we moved out to L.A. Dave Eggers’ organization 826LA asked us to host their Spelling Bee for Cheaters for them and it went really well. They raised lots of money and we ended up doing it for two other chapters in San Francisco and NYC. Then we started getting asked by other non-profits and schools to do it and that’s how The Spelling Bee Company began.
AE: Did your mom ever dress you two alike?
Liz: My mom had identical pink dresses made for us to wear to our brother’s bar mitzvah. Though they were custom, they didn’t fit properly and also, they were just terrible. So ugly. My sister was allowed to change out of her dress into a cooler outfit that I think was purple for the party. I was six and already aware that I did not like wearing dresses, but I had no cooler outfit to change into.
Jill:I think my mom wanted us to be twins, or maybe she was just lazy, but in a lot of pictures we’re wearing slightly different versions of the same outfit. Faith also hated wearing dresses from a young age and my mom was a budding feminist so we both had little butch haircuts and wore cute little polyester turtlenecks and bell bottoms.
AE: Any last thoughts?
Liz: I’ll add that my sister is a huge reason why I’m in the entertainment business. She’s my original collaborator and I always look forward to being on stage with her at the fundraisers. It’s just a joy to be together, in our matching leopard print dresses. It’s like we’re kids again.
Jill: Just that it’s not fair that Rebecca and Liz get to live in the same city and I have to live so far away from Faith. I want her to move to LA. Oh, and don’t forget to go sponsor my team or to sponsor Rebecca’s team for the upcoming spelling bee. Even a teensy amount would be so meaningful. And if you’re in LA this coming weekend, come out and help us spell. It’s for the children!